The history of our human civilization is a long and arduous one. It is no exaggeration to say we have come a long way. In spite of our achievements, much of what makes us human has not changed.
The prehistoric naked hominid walked naked and vulnerable armed only with his gift of reason. He faced a dangerous and unpredictable world. Beasts armed with power, claws and teeth ran amok, tempests raged, volcanoes spewed, the ground shook and man was helpless. His intellectual grasp of the unfathomable forces of nature was limited to his observations and imaginations. Most of what early man understood about nature was its supreme authority over his daily life. A mix of reverence, fear and awe led to a mythology that personified nature’s unfathomable power into a form that primitive man could understand. He created gods.
In Eurasia around 20,000 B.C.E., Paleolithic people lived throughout the continent in small communities and settlements. Daily lives were punctuated by securing meat and gathering fodder for sustenance. People observed and venerated nature. Animals gave birth. Plants flowered, seeded and sprouted forth new life. The female grew round, and new life erupted from her loins in a shower of life-giving blood. The earth was fecund, animate and was the source of all life.
Time was an endless cycle. The moon waxed and waned. The sun rose and set. Spring and summer gave way to fall and winter, and then the whole cycle started over again. Life ended in death, and death ended in rebirth. Babies entered the world from the mysterious world of the womb through the birth canal and past the rounded form of the vulva into life. When souls died, their physical bodies melted back into the earth from whence they came. And then, life sprang forth again from the fertile soil.
Paleolithic peoples observed and revered the mysteries of earth and depicted them in art. Ancient drawings unearthed on the walls of dwellings reveal an artistry that rivals many of today’s renowned artists. Countless unearthed figurines describe an idealized female form with rounded hips and breasts ripe with pregnancy. In death, loved ones were anointed with red ochre symbolizing the blood that would wash them into rebirth.
The ancient people of the earth did not have microscopes, DNA testing or any of the scientific methods available to us today. They only had their observations to go on, and they noticed it is the female of all species that bestows life. In many instances, it was not even apparent to many ancient cultures that copulation and sperm donation was a necessary part of the process. From this perspective, the female sex was the creator of life.
Hence, matrilineal cultures arose that viewed inheritance as passed down through one’s mother. If this wisdom is barely obvious today, imagine how it was thousands of years ago when paternity was dubious and one really could only know who their mother was. The god of these ancient peoples, our ancestors was Mother Earth.
Worship of the Great Mother in her various incarnations was ubiquitous throughout the ancient world as is evidenced in countless artifacts and totems that have been unearthed throughout Eurasia. The earth goddess’ reign spanned tens of thousands of years.
Thousands of years before the great civilizations of ancient Egypt flourished, the closest historical facsimile of paradise known today existed during the period of 6,000 B.C.E. – 1,500 B.C.E. on the island of Crete. Known only from recent archaeological discoveries, the utopian secrets of these people known as ‘Minoans’ are only just coming to light. While no culture is truly perfect, archaeological evidence suggests the ancient Minoan civilizations were free from war for a period of at least 1,500 years. As far as we know, no other civilization has ever matched the Minoans in this regard.
Theirs was an advanced society. Uncovered artifacts indicate that cities, harbors, paved roads, aqueducts, sanitary sewers, written language and advanced construction techniques were the order of the day. Evidence suggests these conveniences were afforded to all residents rather than just the elite class, and written accounts of governmental expenditures known as “Linear A” indicate that much of the ruling authorities’ revenues were reinvested back into society in the form of social infrastructures.
Minoan culture was equally rich and well-defined. Ornate frescoes, mosaics and statuary adorned homes, palaces and places of worship. Depicted in art were scenes of the joyful exuberance of life. Men and women competed together in sporting events and ceremonial worship. Dancing and parties were also popular subjects. Exquisite renderings of flora and fauna showed a deep respect for nature and her bounty. What is absent in these artifacts are any depictions of violence, bloodshed, slavery or oppressions of any kind. The Minoans were above all a peaceful people.
At the center of it all, was a reverence for the Great Goddess. She was nature and to her, the people of ancient Crete gave thanks for their bountiful lives and the pleasures it afforded them. Recent discoveries indicate that the Minoan civilization was most likely wiped out by a tidal wave. Their civilization did not collapse from the over consumption of resources or warfare. They simply disappeared beneath the waves of fate. Many believe the myth of Atlantis may be a universal reflection on what was once Earth’s most advanced civilization, the Minoans.
In the beginning, there was only chaos. The great mother earth Gaia formed out of the chaos, but she was lonely, so she formed the sky, Uranus, to cover herself and be her consort. Together Gaia and Uranus had many children, known as the Titans, but Uranus was a spiteful and jealous god, so he ordered Gaia to keep the children contained within her bowels. Gaia and her children grew weary of the domineering treatment and conspired. When Uranus came to mate with Gaia, her son Chronus rose up and castrated his father. As the blood of the sky’s testicles spilled upon Gaia, more children were created. The Furies and the Giants came to inhabit the land, and Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty arose from the foam of the sea. Gaia’s son Chronus became the father of the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus including their leaders Zeus and Hera.
The Minoan history shows that we are not beyond redemption. Peace and sustainable living are also part of our human heritage.
To be continued...